Defending Class 1A state champion Newberry is back in the state playoffs.
Last Thursday, the Panthers edged Dixie County (Cross City), 7-6, to win the Class 1A-District 7 title.
Newberry (14-7) scored two runs in the seventh inning to rally past the Bears.
“We found a way to keep fighting,” said Newberry coach Mike Spina, who led the Panthers to their first state title in school history last year. “It’s a young team but we kept battling and battling and we found ourselves still in the ball game late in the game and had some quality at bats and we were right in it in the seventh.”
The Panthers, the No. 1 seed in 1A-Region 4, will host No. 4 seed Chiefland tonight at 7 p.m. The game will be broadcast online (audio) at MainStreetDailyNews.com.
Chiefland (10-11) lost to Dixie County, 7-4, in the 1A-District 7 semifinals last week but still earned an at-large spot. This will be the rubber match against the Panthers.
The Indians lost to the Panthers in Newberry, 5-4, on March 3. However, Chiefland beat Newberry at home, 5-3, on April 1.
Junior Junior Brown leads the Indians at the plate with a .417 batting average. He has a team-leading 25 hits and 17 runs driven in. Junior Seth Campbell is next with a .365 average.
“You’ve got to come beat us at home,” Spina said. “That’s what we want.”
Meanwhile, the Bears (11-9) are the No. 3 seed in the region and will travel to No. 2 seed Fort Meade (12-12).
Newberry, Chiefland and Dixie County are three of nine baseball teams in the Mainstreet Daily News coverage area to make the postseason, along with Columbia (Lake City) in Class 5A, Suwannee (Live Oak) and Santa Fe (Alachua) in 4A, Oak Hall School (Gainesville) in 2A, and Fort White and Union County (Lake Butler) in Class 1A.
Union County, which is ranked No. 2 in 1A by MaxPreps, will host district foe Fort White tonight. The visiting Indians (14-6) are ranked seventh in the state.
“I will have to admit that hosting does seem to be advantageous, but in the same token it can create a certain amount of pressure,” said Union County coach Travis Rimes, whose Tigers defeated Hilliard, 12-2, to win the 1A-District 6 title. “The key to a win really is no secret, we have to throw strikes, play solid defense, and get timely hits. We have to play as a team, not as individuals, and limit the mistakes.”
The Tigers (14-11) defeated Fort White, 6-2, on the road on March 3 but lost at home, 2-0, on April 26. However, Union County defeated Fort White, 6-3, in the 1A-District 6 Semifinals.
Despite falling late to St. Joseph Academy (St. Augustine) in the 2A-District 4 championship game, the Eagles (14-3) clinched a playoff spot.
“We are excited to make the playoffs for the second year in a row,” said Oak Hall coach Kevin Maris, whose team will travel to Tallahassee to face 2A No. 4 North Florida Christian on Wednesday at 4 p.m. “North Florida Christian always has a good program every year and it should be a good game. We have prepared all year for this opportunity and now we need to just go execute our game plan.”
Santa Fe (20-6) will also be in action on Wednesday against Clay (Green Cove Springs).
The Raiders, who have a team ERA of 2.70, won the 4A-District 4 title on Thursday with a 3-1 win against Dunnellon.
“Clay is an opponent we have a ton of respect for,” said Santa Fe coach Travis Yecking. “We’ve played 23 innings against each other the last two games so we’re very familiar with one another. It’s going to come down to who executes better both offensively and defensively.”
The Raiders edged the Blue Devils (17-10) on the road, 2-1 in nine innings, on April 12 and lost 5-4 in 14 innings in a home game during the 2021 season.
“In the postseason free bases are magnified,” Yeckring said. “We’ll have to take care of the baseball and throw a bunch of strikes. Offensively, I expect us to see a really good arm, so we’ll have to move guys over and get them in when we have our opportunities.”
The winner will face either Suwannee (Live Oak) or Baker County (Glen St. Mary) in Saturday’s regional semifinal.
“Just really excited to be playing playoff baseball at home and we hope to have an electric atmosphere,” added Yeckring.
FHSAA baseball playoff schedule
Class 1A Regional Semifinals
Tuesday, May 10
No. 4 Fort White at No. 1 Union County (Lake Butler), 7 p.m. (Region 3)
No. 4 Chiefland at No. 1 Newberry, 7 p.m. (Region 4)
No. 3 Dixie County (Cross City) at No. 2 Fort Meade, 7 p.m. (Region 4)
Tuesday, May 10
Class 5A – No. 8 St. Augustine at No. 1 Columbia (Lake City), 7 p.m.
Wednesday, May 11
Class 4A – No. 8 Baker County (Glen St. Mary) at No. 1 Suwannee (Live Oak), 7 p.m.
Class 4A – No. 5 Clay (Green Cove Springs) at No. 4 Santa Fe (Alachua), 7 p.m.
Class 2A – No. 7 Oak Hall School (Gainesville) at No. 2 North Florida Christian (Tallahassee), 4 p.m.